Is it Ok to Crack your Own Neck or Back??


Is it Ok to Crack your Own Neck or Back? People ask me this question all the time!

Did you know there is such a thing as Over-Manipulation Syndrome (OMS)?

In practice, we come across this spinal syndrome quite regularly, and it is something to be aware of. Multiple manipulations in the same day can lead to OMS. If you know someone, or you are someone who “cracks” your own neck or back then this blog is for you!

Chiropractic Adjustments

Adjustments that Chiropractors apply are a very specific and gentle manoeuvres. These adjustments allow the correct amount of force to move only the joint(s) required, and correcting spinal misalignment. It is an extremely powerful technique to restore spinal alignment, nerve system function, and health.

What happens if it is done too often, to the wrong joints, and by someone untrained in this technique?

Patients often ask if it is harmful to crack their own neck or back. I even get people who will proudly demonstrate this manoeuvre right in front of me. It is NOT a good idea to SELF-manipulate your neck or back spinal joints more than once on the same day. This only provides temporary relief, and creates new issues with the stability.

There are a 3 reasons why this should be avoided, and why we need rehabilitation in these cases.

1. Self-Manipulation has no control on which areas are moved and mobilised.

Firstly, self-manipulation can very easily move several joints out of alignment. Secondly, joints that are already moving adequately or maybe too much are pushed further than what they should be. Consequently, this creates instability, or in some cases hyper-mobility. Additionally, this leads to a great deal of muscular contraction in the area the body is trying to stabilise. Muscles tighten and contract to try to do the job of the already overstretched ligaments. As a result, the patient suffers muscle spasms, and a vicious cycle of pain leading to more pain.

2. Self-Manipulation can be dangerous.

Self-manipulation shouldn’t be applied because it could damage or worsen the unknown underlying condition.  Consequently, a few conditions that would not respond well to self-adjustments are spinal canal stenosis or inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, only a Chiropractor or Spinal Manipulative Therapist can determine this on thorough examination and history.

3. Self-Manipulation can become addictive!

Cracking their own neck or back may provide some short term relief of pain, but self-manipulating habits are difficult to treat or reverse. Rehabilitation on the other hand teaches patients the correct way to stretch and relax tight muscles. Alternative methods can find relief through heat, meditation, mobilisation, and strength-based exercises. The main goal in these cases is to gain stability. Dry Needling is a great way to heal injured ligaments, restore their proper function, and stabilise the joints.

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